Hello and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. This week I want to talk to you about a topic I have put off writing about for a long time: Procrastination. Ba-dump-bump! Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! I’ll be here all week, don’t forget to tip your waitresses!
Seriously though, there is no subject that will derail your dreams and goals faster than Procrastination. Not knowing where to begin and putting off projects, can lead to getting nowhere fast, but it can also lead to severe psychological problems.
I was inspired to do this article because of a “Hoarders” episode I saw recently. Watching this show makes me feel like Adrian Monk by comparison. This particular episode was about a guy who had tons of junk on his property outside (not to mention the colossal mess on the inside). The city was getting on him to clean it all up. Something he said struck me. He said that the reason that he had all this junk was because he had “projects” for all of it.
How many of us can relate to this guy? Not the hoarding, but the fact that many of our projects never get past the planning stage and move into the action stage. Many of us go through life this way. We are struck by Divine Inspiration, but the project never gets off the ground, because we just don’t know where to begin. Or, we are drowned by the responsibilities of day-to-day life and never to get to the stuff we really need to work on.
For people who are still working the 9-to-5 grind, this can be especially distracting. You ask yourself, “Why is it I don’t get ahead in this job?” Maybe you’re doing too much of the stuff that doesn’t matter and you don’t have the guts to go after the really tough stuff! I know I have been guilty of this.
We’ve all been there. How can you get ahead, when you feel you are constantly spinning your wheels? Wikipedia defines Procrastination this way: “Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. This subject is addressed in the Time Management classic, “Eat That Frog!” I know, it’s a weird title, but it makes sense when you hear it in context. Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
That’s the premise of Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. It’s a book that introduces a list of Time Management principles that will help you Eat That Frog, and finally get somewhere with your projects! Click on his name above for a short YouTube video where he explains the concept and how it can help to change your life! (Skip the initial ad.)
Tracy states that the three biggest principles of ETF are:
#1: Eat your frog first thing in the morning.
#2: If you have more than one frog, eat the biggest and ugliest frog first.
#3: It doesn’t pay to sit there looking at it, gulp it down!
The whole book is pretty much summed up in those three statements. The rest of the book goes into greater detail about why you should follow these three principles and introduces the ABCDE concept as well as other ideas that will help you, in your quest to become an experienced “Frog-Eater”.
For me, procrastination comes down to two things: lack of knowledge and the inability to make a decision. There is a third factor, the pain-in-the-butt factor. However, if you manage the first two items, the third one becomes a non-issue.
In this day and age, lack of knowledge about a particular problem is no longer an adequate excuse. Hell, you can practically learn how to do open heart surgery on YouTube, although I wouldn’t recommend it!
This blog is an example of gaining knowledge, in order to eat a frog. I knew that I wanted to create a website with WordPress, but all I had done before on WP was to create a simple blog. I put off getting this website off the ground for quite a while because I didn’t know where to begin. I bought a book on WordPress, learned what I needed to know, and now I am thinking about creating another website as well. All because I gained the knowledge necessary to get the job done!
Once you have gained sufficient knowledge or skill in a certain area, making a decision is much easier. The important thing is to decide to decide. Even if your choice isn’t perfect, many people are paralyzed into inaction because they want the end result to be perfect. If you make a decision and it doesn’t work out, simply make another decision! Once you have gained the knowledge and made the decision, you’re 90% of the way there. The other 10% are tweaks that may need to be done, but then you’re done with that project and it’s time to move on to the next frog!
Brian Tracy describes the endorphin rush that you get by eating an ugly frog. You know that feeling when you finally finish a project that you have been putting off for a very long time! Doesn’t it feel great when you finally have it done?! That’s the rush he’s talking about! That feeling can become addictive, in a very good way.
Although this article has focused on dealing with Procrastination, the other side of that coin is Discipline. Discipline is the character trait that will enable you to go after your ugly frogs and KEEP going after your ugly frogs, day after day after day. My next article will go into that topic in greater detail.
I hope that this article has inspired you to go after the ugly frogs in your life. Don’t be a “Mental Hoarder” of a bunch of great ideas that never get off the ground, simply because your life is cluttered up with too many tadpoles!
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